Tuesday, December 3, 2002, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi



Why is Army short of manpower?

In his write up "Why is Army short of manpower" (Nov. 27), the author has highlighted by now the extensively debated and well-known causes of shortage of officers. He has not touched in enough detail the shortage of manpower, if any, in below officer ranks. However, under the banner of shortage of manpower a dispensation has been made of a mindset in the sentence in bold print, 'It is time we dispensed with the recruitment quota system and revert to the old system of enrolling the best out of the volunteers, irrespective of the states they hail from. Admittedly we cannot dilute the standard of soldiering for the sake of extraneous considerations and then regret it when it is too late!”

No facts and figures or instances have been given to fortify this mindset to indicate the dilution of standard of soldiering or regrets “when it is too late”. Apparently, the country is being advised to revert to the colonial period of selection of troops when the wars were more oriented towards the North-West of then British India. Are we to ignore the transition to modern warfare and changed history of India? Are we to ignore the frontiers to the East, the North-East, the North and the South?

It will not be out of place to remind the nation that since 1947, people recruited on a quota basis from all States have proved their mettle in wars under the right leadership. Under a wrong leadership even the so-called best of troops have failed. Troops rarely fail unless the leadership fails. Please reflect, as to which ethnic people faced the might of the Indian Peace-Keeping Force in Sri Lanka? The results are well known.


Admittedly, there are enough volunteers in other states but very few of them make the grade for recruitment. Is this statement supplemented or augmented with facts and figures as is done in case of officers? Paucity of space would not satisfy the public!

Please recall the T.V. footage of Kargil, and ponder, that there were martyrs and brave people from all states of India. Bravery was not doled out by God region wise, it was created by leaders.

Presumably an indication has been suggested to flood the defence forces with manpower from particular states on the plea of fitness of volunteers from other states. Pray where are the statistics? The history of the Indian Army has changed since the colonisers left. With the advent of an electronic age, sophistication of weaponry, and above all democracy, recruitment cannot be limited to particular regions.

Lastly, the authorities must take care in selecting the defence brass in all three services and even para-military forces responsible for recruitment and manpower for both officers and other ranks who do not have motivated mindsets on fitness on the regional basis. All recruitment policies must be monitored and cleared by the Cabinet committee responsible for the defence and integrity of India as a nation.

J.R. SINGH, Panchkula

Sugarcane crushing

Yamunanagar district and its surrounding area is predominantly cane growing and one of the biggest sugar mill is here in the private sector. The crushing season, which used to start in the second week of November every year has been delayed by a month for the last couple of years, causing economic hardship, resentment and unrest among the cane growers.

Though the production cost of cane has gone up this year due to the rise in the prices of fertilisers, diesel and drought, yet the rates announced by the government are at last year’s level of Rs 110,106 and 104 per quintal for early, middle and late varieties. The quantity of early variety is negligible.

In spite of being upset over the low rates, farmers kept silent and unwillingly accepted the rates without any protest with the hope that the timely start of the crushing season would ease the crisis faced by them due to the drought and the failure of kharif crops. But the patience of the cane-growers went in vain. It transpires that the government and the mill management get activated only when farmers stage dharnas and block traffic.

Had the sugar mill commissioned crushing in time, the wheat crop would have been sown in some 15,000 acres vacated by the cane crop. Neither the government nor the mill management has considered this factor of farmers’ interest.

The mill management should commence crushing without delay so that the farmers do not sell their cane at throw-away prices to the gur manufacturers.

RAVI DATT SHARMA, Slempur Banger (Jagadhari)


Writing history

I fully endorse the views in the letter “History is not creative writing” (Nov. 19). However, no sensible society can allow, for obvious reasons, the continuation of certain cold historical facts that, over a considerable period, acquire intense religious connotations. For, it is mere foolishness to force bitter historical details down the throats of people who remember/worship their religious leaders with utmost devotional faith.

Recently while browsing through a museum catalogue I found that a so-called historian had referred to the death of a Sikh Guru as “jyoti jyot samayey”! when a well-known fact like this, being of a comparatively recent past, reaches such a spot, it is time when history needs a rewriting.

And by deleting such facts from history books and putting them in the ambit of study of religious faiths and dogmas, should not be considered as writing of “creative history”. More so because no academic study should be allowed to develop in a sane society that hurts the sentiments of majority of its people. For example I don’t think that any historical debate/research to find the historicity of Mahabharata and Ramayana is worth pursuing. Whether history or myth, these are the deeply rooted sacred parts of our religious consciousness, which need no cold probing in the name of history. A historian has to be human first!

BALVINDER, Chandigarh

Stray animals

There was an accident of a car in which four persons got burnt alive. The cause of the accident was a dead cow lying in the middle of the road near the Jalandhar bypass a few kilometres from Ludhiana. The cow must have died after an accident with another vehicle.

A few days earlier a similar accident took place near Sirhind in which a buscaryy school students from Patiala turned upside down and two girl students got killed. Many students were seriously injured.

A few days ago there was news from Bathinda in which some gowshala people pointed out that there are about 150 bulls and 2,000 cows wandering in the city and causing accidents.

In every city there are stray cattle. The main reason for this is the ban on the slaughter of such animals and the ban is perhaps applicable in Punjab only.

The stray animals mainly come from villages. To house them there are “gowshalas” but these are not adequate. The condition of the animals kept in “gowshalas” is pitiable. There is no proper fodder for them. So what is the solution to this major problem of accidents. First, the sale of these animals to cattle traders from states like UP, Bihar and West Bengal should be allowed. If cattle from these states are being slaughtered, why not those from our state? By imposing a ban on the sale of cattle, we are doing unjustice to farmers.

Second, slaughter houses should be set up in Punjab. Every animal has a life. If a goat or a chicken is slaughtered a life is being snuffed out.

DR RANBIR SINGH GILL, Jagdev Kalan (Amritsar)

Exhibition on Wheels

Apropos the report "Railways gallery sans Netaji's photo" (Nov. 23), the omission of Netaji's photograph in the "Exhibition on Wheels" train was done inadvertently without any motive or intention whatsoever. However, one photograph of Netaji alighting from a train has been included in the exhibition. No "life-size photograph" of either Mr Nitish Kumar, Minister for Railways, or Mr Ramvilas Paswan, former Minister for Railways, has been displayed in the train that is moving all over the country to commemorate the 150th year of the Railways in India.

SOUMITRA MAJUMDAR, CPRO, Eastern Railway, Kolkata

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